FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about the AEA Program

 

Topic  Question  Answer
     
Why?
  • Why would I go on an AEA program?
  • You want to serve and bless others but are not ready for a senior mission.
  • You would like to have a Gospel oriented service opportunity for your family where you will have enough time to interact with and learn from those you serve.
  • You have talents/experiences that you've always wanted to use to bless the lives of others in a volunteer setting.
  • You still have to work remotely but only for a few hours each week.  The bulk of your time is available to bless the lives of others.
  • Your kids are doing home school or are on summer vacation and you would love to give them an unforgettable spiritual and cultural experience.

 

     
     
 
  • Why would my help make a difference?
  • People immediately feel your love and sense your genuine interest to bless the lives of others through your care and encouragement.
  • Even within a short period of time, there are so many ways to bless others.  Volunteers generally accomplish much more than they initially thought they would. 
  • If only one person is blessed by your efforts, what a difference it can make in their life and the lives of their family members.
     
     
What?
  • What service/humanitarian work will I be doing?
  • This is completely up to you and the Lord.  AEA will make it easy for you to be anxiously engaged in a good cause! 
  • You can spend your time ministering to the members of your branch.  Your Branch President will likely assign you to minister to families that need your support, love and friendship. 
  • You can use your past experience and expertise. Maybe you'd like to help someone with a startup business.  Others may greatly benefit from your self-reliance expertise.  Many need help with gardening to reduce their food costs. You could be a great tutor for students in need.  The Lord will guide you to know how you can best serve. We're happy to help you find a location that needs your help, just give us a call.
  • You can offer one of the humanitarian/service programs available from AEA.  For example, you can provide prescription eyeglasses for school children that desperately need vision help. AEA provides the training and the equipment.  You and your spouse can joint teach our Healthy Relationships Course after receiving online materials and training.  Ongoing online support and training is available for these programs. Click here for detailed information about the available programs.
     
     
 
  • What are the benefits of volunteering with AEA?
  • AEA's charitable mission is to make your service efforts more productive.  It's goal is to make it easy, convenient, and less expensive for you to serve in locations that need your help.  The following are the direct benefits and services that AEA provides at no cost to you:
    • When you register for an AEA program you will be assigned to an AEA advisor who is familiar with your service location and will be available to answer all your questions.
    • From the very beginning, when AEA's local coordinator meets you at the airport and takes you to your apartment, she will be your "personal staff" to help with all your local needs.  She will help you talk to the right people in order to accomplish your service program.  She will even show you the best grocery store and take you to the phone company to get a local number chip for your cell phone.  She's always just a phone call away.
    • AEA provides several service programs that you can choose as your way to bless the lives of others.  Each program has a trainer/coordinator that will train you and support you via video conference.  Click here for a list of AEA service programs.
    • AEA identifies quality housing in good locations (all with hi-speed wifi).  It negotiates long-term leases that will save you more than 50% off the normal cost of short-term housing.
    • We contract for long-term rates on rental vehicles, drivers and taxis to reduce your transportation costs by up to 50%.
    • We have identified good doctors, hospitals and clinics close to you should you need medical care.
    • If you need assistance, AEA will help you get your passports, book your air tickets and make other travel arrangements.
    • AEA has identified low cost, short-term medical, travel and evacuation insurance policies that will make your stay worry-free. 
     
     
 
  • What can I do to make this a sustainable, responsible humanitarian service program?
  • Don't provide services that would take work away from local professionals
  • Don't plan to give anyone money or merchandise.  It's not a responsible way to bless someone's life because it creates a dependency mentality in the recipient and unrealistic expectations for the volunteers that will follow you.
  • It's best to think of your AEA volunteer service as a kind of cultural exchange.   You will give your time, talents, experience, encouragement, training, example and love to others.  You will receive their love, wisdom, culture, cuisine, environment, adventure and gratitude.  What better experience could you have?
 

 
     
 
  • What am I not permitted to do?
  • You're on a tourist visa that is only valid for six months.  By local law, you cannot work or take work away from the locals. You can't sell items or conduct any business locally. You can't do formal missionary work.
     
     
Who?
  • Who can go on an AEA program?
  • A couple or a family where at least two adults are over the age of 21 and one adult is a current temple recommend holder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This means that part member families can participate. See the location information as there may be limits on the number and ages of children.
  • One of the main AEA goals is to support the growing branches of the Church.   We request that each couple/family on a AEA program (whether members or not) attend Church each week.
     
     
 
  • Who is behind the AEA organization?
  • AEA is a new non-profit organization headquartered in St. George, Utah whose purpose is to strengthen and bless the lives of those in areas where the Church is just getting established.
  • AEA was founded by Glenn & Elisabeth Bingham.  They are also the founders of the HEFY/Humanitarian XP organization that annually has more than 5,000 teens serving as humanitarian volunteers in more than 35 countries.  Click here for more information on Humanitarian XP.
  • AEA is an all volunteer, non-profit organization.  There are no paid employees and any organization expenses are covered by generous donations so that no overhead costs are passed on to you as an AEA volunteer.
     
     
 
  • Who will work with us and train us?
  • You will certainly have great support while on your AEA service program.  Here is a list of resources that will be available for you:
    • You will always be able to call the AEA Advisor that is assigned to you when you first registered to go on an AEA program and is familiar with your location.
    • AEA's Local Coordinator will work with you to accomplish your service program and help you settle in to your new location.
    • In most cases, there is another AEA couple/family within a 1 hr drive drive who are working in another branch.  We ask that you get together with them on the second Monday of each month for mutual support, guidance and sharing of your experiences.  This doesn't need to be an office meeting. It can be a great time to visit one of the wonderful local attractions together.  Try out a delicious local restaurant, hike to a beautiful waterfall or take a catamaran cruise out to a great snorkeling spot. There are so many fun and interesting things you can do.
    • If you are working with one of the AEA service programs, you will be able to contact the US based AEA program coordinator for training, questions, and general help.
    • You will be given the phone numbers for couples that have served before you in the same location.  They are happy to take your phone call if you have any questions about their previous work, contacts, etc.
    • AEA keeps an online log system for each location.  You will be able to consult that system to find out which individuals were previously helped. It also has helpful information like which restaurants are good, which natural, cultural and historic points of interest are a must see, etc.
    • AEA keeps a list of recommended local service persons including cooks, cleaners, drivers and others that will be available to you.
     
     
When?
  • How long does it take for me to complete the online "application" to be able to go on your program?
  • If there is availability for your desired location you can leave within a few days or you can reserve your preferred location for two years from now.  It's your choice to select the location and dates that will work best for you.  Check the availability calendars by clicking here. Make it a matter of prayer.
     
     
 
  • How long do I serve with AEA?
  • We request that you serve for a minimum of 2 months and a maximum of 6 months (it's possible to request an extension).  The choice is yours.  Check the availability calendar and select the dates that work for you.
     
     
Where?
  • Why these locations?
  • The locations for AEA programs have been painstakingly selected based on the following characteristics:
    • They are in developing countries where life can be difficult and your help will be truly valued.
    • They are where small Church branches would be blessed by your membership.
    • The are all English speaking locations so there are no communication barriers.
    • They are all located where there are direct flights to the US/Canada so that travel back and forth is relatively quick, convenient and less expensive.
    • They are in countries with an abundance of natural, cultural and historical interests
  • More locations are being added all the time.  If you would like to recommend a new location to us click here.
     
     
 
  • What if the location we want is not available for our desired dates?
  • You can add yourself to the waiting list by clicking here.  You will be given the first opportunity to fill any vacancies that may open up and you will be given the first opportunity to reserve any new locations that are added.
     
     
 How?
  • How do we apply to be an AEA volunteer?
     
     
 
  • How do we travel around to complete our service and recreational plans?
  • There are at least three options for transportation to cover your travel needs. 
    • You can have a full-time rental car and drive yourself everywhere.  Google Maps driving instructions do work in these locations so its easy to find where you're going.  Just remember that Dominica and St. Lucia have left handed driving.  This option is for those who like adventure.
    • In some locations things are generally within walking distance.  See the transportation recommendation under the location description page to see if a car is recommended.  For the times that you do need a car, we have preferred taxi drivers that have have agreed to shuttle you around for a fixed amount per hour at rates that are a substantial savings from regular taxi use.  The taxi can make it easy to run all of your errands or visit your ministering families
    • Each location has a public bus system that you can utilize to get around. In reality it is more of a system of private vans that hold 8 -14 people.   It usually costs around a $0.75 per trip and in many places you can request door to door drop-off by paying slightly more.  Your Local Coordinator will be happy to show you how to use the system.
  • You can decide what will work best for you.  The rental car option requires a one month commitment but other than that it is easy enough to change or mix and match. If you do rent a car we strongly advise against driving in the dark due to the large number of unmarked road hazards.
     
     
 
  • How do we communicate with family and friends back home?
  • In today's world of 5G cellular and hi-speed internet, easy communication around the world has become routine.  You can add on international service to your current cellular plan and you will be able to make and receive calls (and messages) and use your smart phone apps as if you had never left home.  People calling you will think you're just down the street. People you call won't know your thousands of miles away.  Unlimited international plans run about $50-$100/month. 
  • If your calling needs don't warrant an international plan you can use one of the free internet phone services, like WhatsApp. You will be able to make and receive free calls (and messages) back and forth to anyone around the world that also installs the free WhatsApp app on their phone. 
     
     
 
  • How do we communicate with the locals whom we serve?
  • Most people don't realize that their smart phone, made after approximately 2020, has the ability to host two phone numbers at the same time (iPhone 12 and later for Apple users).  When you're in an AEA country you can insert a local cellular SIM chip (usually about $10) that will give you a local number.  You and the locals, including members of your new branch, can call or message each other.  On your same phone, you will be able to make and receive calls (or messages) interchangeably from your existing US number and from your new local number.  It's amazing what technology has made possible!
     
     
Church?
  • What will I do in the local branch?
  • Your membership records will be "shared" (out of unit record) or transferred to the local branch while you live there.  The Branch President will likely call you to serve in the Branch organization based on the inspiration that he receives.  Like most members of the Church, you will also likely receive a ministering assignment.
  • We hope that you will let your light shine in so many ways! However, you will not be able to serve as a missionary.  You will be traveling on a tourist visa and missionary work is not permitted by the local laws for tourist visa holders.
     
     
 
  • Is AEA endorsed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?
  • While AEA and the Church share the same beliefs, standards, goals, and objectives, AEA is an independent non-profit organization and is not affiliated with nor endorsed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  AEA volunteers are requested to be supportive of Church leadership and programs.
     
     
Health/Medical?
  • What about our healthcare? Do we need to pass health/dental screening?
  • You're responsible to be the judge of your own health/dental suitability for the location and service you choose to perform.
  • We have provided a general description of the healthcare available in each location.  See our location information by clicking here.
  • You will need health insurance during your AEA service time but you may already have it.  Please check to see if your current health insurance already covers you for overseas medical expenses.  If not, we can recommend inexpensive short-term travel medical insurance.
  • We ask that each volunteer have emergency medical evacuation insurance that will fly you and your spouse by private jet to a US hospital if you have a serious medical emergency.  We can recommend insurance to you that for a one-time fee of $250 covers a whole family for all the months you serve. 
  • We have identified what are considered to be the best doctors and private hospitals/clinics in each location should you require any kind of medical treatment.  That list will be provided to you by the local coordinator upon arrival. If you would like she will take you to visit those facilities.
     
     
 Language?
  • Do I need to know a language?
  • Currently, all AEA locations are completely English speaking.
     
     
Guarantee?
  • What if I don't like it when I get there?
  • You're always welcome to return home at anytime.  You don't have any obligation except we won't be able to refund the rent you have already paid.  Please feel free to contact us at anytime if feel you need to return home for any reason.  We will try our best to make any changes so you will enjoy your special service opportunity.  
     
     
Rules?
  • What rules do I need to follow?
  • You are responsible for your own health, safety and schedule.  For example, we'd love to see couples grow spiritually by holding morning scripture study together.  However, you may prefer to take a refreshing dip in the ocean each morning and save scriptures for later in the day.  It's up to you.
  • AEA promotes the best practices for humanitarian service so we do have a few AEA guidelines:
    • Don't give people money or merchandise.  There are better ways to help people without creating dependency or setting an unsustainable precedent.
    • Don't help people leave the country.  We're there to strengthen the country not to recruit people away.
    • Don’t offer services for free that will take business/income away from locals. It's a visa violation.
     
     
Dress?
  • Do I wear a white shirt or dress each day?
  • No.  You will not be a formal representative of the Church, nor a full-time missionary, nor have any required dress code.  You will be a volunteer for AEA.  We suggest you wear what makes you comfortable, fits with your service program and is consistent with local customs.  If you like shorts and sandals, that can be your daily dress.  Our only request is that you wear Church dress to Branch meetings on Sundays.
 

  • If desired, AEA will order you AEA business cards and/or AEA name tags.  
     
     
Family?
  • What if I need to return home for a family wedding/birth/baptism, etc.
  • You can leave and return again to your AEA program location at any time for any reason during the time that you have reserved.  It's completely up to you! Of course, you would still be responsible for your own transportation costs and for your local rent.  Our local coordinator can arrange your airport transfers and look out for your apartment.  We just ask that you don't split up as a couple.
     
     
 
  • What if I'd like to have my family come visit us while we are serving at our AEA location?
  • Of course! They can even stay with you in your housing as long as there is room.
     
     
Passport/Visa?
  • As a US citizen am I required to have a passport and visa?
  • Passport - Yes - we can help if you don't already have one.  Remember it takes about 2-3 months to get your passport.
  • Visa - no  - a pre-authorized visa is not required for tourist stays of less than 6 months.
  • Currently no entry Covid testing is required for fully vaccinated individuals.  Some countries have other requirements for unvaccinated individuals.  Select a specific location here for the more information
     
     
Food?
  • What is the food like?
  • Each apartment is equipped with a full kitchen.  You'll find that many grocery stores have a large selection of US food products.   You can prepare most of the food you would normally fix at home.
  • The AEA log for each location has a list of the restaurants that previous couples/families have enjoyed
  • AEA has identified local chefs in each location.  For a separate charge you can have someone occasionally teach you and/or prepare the special cuisine of that location.  There are many wonderful tropical fruits, vegetables and seafood that can't be found in the US. 
     
     
Recreation?
  • What can I do for recreation and fun?
  • All of the locations where AEA serves have fantastic natural, cultural, historical and recreational opportunities.  For example,  did you know that Dominica has the only year-round resident pod of sperm whales on the earth?  Imagine how amazing a whale watching trip would be!  How about a day at the beach or deep-sea fishing?  Each location has a online log detailing the great natural, cultural and historic attractions that the previous couples/families have enjoyed.  There is no rule about recreation.  You determine the right balance of recreation in your lives.
     
     
Work?
  • Can I work remotely while on an AEA program?
  • Yes, a little, and as long as it does not involve any local business.  We request that AEA volunteers not spend more than 10 hours a week per person with remote work.   Each AEA apartment includes hi-speed WiFi at no additional charge.
     
     
 Funds?
  • How do I get the money that I need for expenses?
  • Just like you do now!  You can withdraw local currency from several ATM machines of the international banks using your current US ATM card.  Your US debit and credit cards will also be readily accepted at most merchants.  Just make sure to file your travel plans with your card issuer so they don't disable your cards when they see them being used outside of the US/Canada. Make sure that your card has no foreign transaction fees.
     
 

 
 
  • How do the finances work? 
  • The cost information about each location includes an estimated monthly budget as well as one-time expenses like airfare.  Depending on your own lifestyle choices your expenses may be less or exceed the budget.  You will pay for all of your own expenses directly except for the lodging.  AEA has contracted for long-term leases for the housing locations and you will make monthly rent payments to AEA while on the AEA program.  The lodging rates shown in each location budget are current and fixed.  When you apply and reserve an AEA location you will be charged the first month's rent in advance as a refundable deposit.  Subsequent rent will be paid monthly, one month in advance.  The AEA Local Coordinator will show you how to pay any other local expenses.
     
 
  • Are my expenses tax deductible?
  • Please check with your own tax professional as some situations are different.  Generally, all living expenses that you incur in support of the AEA charitable purpose are tax deductible.  This would include airfare, lodging, meals and transportation as long as you are providing full-time service.  Entertainment and recreation expenses would not be tax dedcutible. AEA is a 501(c)3 charitable organization and donations are tax deductible.  Click here for a copy of the AEA's IRS Charitable Designation letter.
     
     
Reports?
  • Do I have to fill out reports on what we do?
  • We ask that once a week you fill out the brief online log of your activities so that those who come after you will know who you've worked with and what you've done.   It's also designed to be your way to recommend restaurants, stores, tourist sites, etc. that you've discovered.